I researched the world’s leading innovators to understand what they do differently. I wanted to understand if there are common themes. Surprise….there is.
Here are the principles that the world’s leading innovators all have in common – summarized so that you can implement them and amp up your innovation culture.
We know Amazon for its mission of being “the earth’s most customer centric company”. Amazon’s first Leadership Principle reads: “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”
Google’s first paragraph in their “10 things we know to be true” is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”.
You don’t become a world leading innovator without an intense focus on your customer – customer centricity is the baseline for world class innovators
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Go beyond the status quo and commit to creating solutions that delight and WOW the customer. You must risk failure in your pursuit to deliver beyond customer expectations, even if you don’t know exactly how to achieve the ambition. You must commit to the outcome, then find a way.
2 Moderna mindsets are to “push past possible” and “We question conventions because greatness lives outside of comfort zones”
“Build Awesome Things” is one of the 6 core values at Meta: “Build Awesome Things pushes us to ship things that are not just good, but also awe-inspiring.”
Speediness and a bias towards action
Moving fast and taking action is incredibly hard to do consistently. Bureaucracy gets in the way. Moving with higher velocity is a complex challenge that requires great organizational design – it requires a culture that embraces speed and autonomy. Leadership must reward action and empower employees to move ahead without formal approval by leadership – this is a rare case in Corporate America. Employees must have an infrastructure that simplifies execution – combined with structure that protects the risk and ensures the right outcomes. A clear North-star is critical. “What’s best for the customer?” is Amazon’s clarifying question when things stall.
Meta is famous for its “Move fast and break things” principle, which since was redacted to: “Move fast“: “Move Fast helps us to build and learn faster than anyone else. This means acting with urgency and not waiting until next week to do something you could do today. At our scale, this also means continuously working to increase the velocity of our highest priority initiatives by methodically removing barriers that get in the way. It’s about moving fast together – in one direction as a company, not just as individuals.
Elon Musk recently shared that Twitter should make big bets and execute with speed – in fact so fast that he’d expect 10% of launched features to be rolled back. Like in downhill skiing: If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not moving (and learning) fast enough.
Impact and long term thinking
The world’s most innovative companies dedicate themselves to working on the world’s most hairy problems.
At the heart of Amazon’s Customer Obsession principle is to work backwards from customers, considering all the unmet needs, irrespective of what business you might be in today.
“Focus on Long-Term Impact emphasizes long-term thinking and encourages us to extend the timeline for the impact we have, rather than optimizing for near-term wins. We should take on the challenges that will be the most impactful, even if the full results won’t be seen for years.” – Meta.
The world’s leading innovators are all unique in their own way but share a set of common innovation culture principles:
- They keep customers front and center
- They think and act boldly.
- They act with a constant sense of urgency.
- They focus on outsized impact over near term results.
How would your company transform if you instilled these principles in your culture?